Why do foods need additives?


Many people are confused and curious about the use of food additives. For example, are food additives necessary? Is it really not harmful to the human body if added? Are there any benefits to using food additives?

The "Standards for the Use of Food Additives" stipulates that food additives are synthetic substances or natural substances added to food to improve the quality, color, aroma and taste of food, as well as to meet the needs of antisepsis, preservation and processing technology. Why do our foods need additives?

Today, food has shifted from manual on-site production and sales to large-scale industrial production. In order to ensure the quality of food during the production, transportation, and packaging processes, adding preservatives and preservatives is a necessary means. For example, the skin of American snake fruit is very bright, as if it has been waxed. In fact, the skin of the snake fruit has indeed been treated, and the surface is covered with a food additive specially used for preservation - a film preparation agent.

The use of food additives is mainly to improve food quality. Without food additives, most foods would become ugly, unpalatable, and difficult to preserve; without food additives, there would be no modern food industry.

Therefore, as long as we live in modern society, everyone will be exposed to food additives almost every day. For example, the brine in the brine tofu that has been in China for thousands of years, its main component is magnesium chloride, which is a food additive, and the gypsum in the gypsum tofu, its main component is calcium sulfate, both of which are food coagulants; in beer There is foam, which is generated by carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a food additive that functions as a preservative; the main ingredient in MSG is sodium glutamate, which is a flavor enhancer; dry red wine contains sulfur dioxide, which is a preservative; soda water The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in steamed bread is an acidity regulator, and baking soda used in steamed buns and fried dough sticks is a fluffing agent. The color of cola is due to caramel, the smoothness of chocolate is inseparable from the work of emulsifiers, and the reason why salt does not clump easily is because of the use of anti-caking agents...

In addition to serving human appetites, food additives can also protect our health and safety. For example, preservatives such as sorbic acid and potassium sorbate that are often used in food have a strong effect on inhibiting spoilage bacteria and mold. Without preservatives, food would be contaminated by harmful microorganisms during transportation and storage. The toxins they secrete are more harmful to the human body, and the shelf life of food will also be greatly shortened.

For example, even if sauced meat is packaged in plastic wrap and stored in an environment of 0°C to 4°C, the bacterial reproduction rate is still astonishing: 1,200 to 2,100 per gram on the first day, and can reach 1,200 to 2,100 per gram on the fifth day. Grams range from 57,000 to 110,000. Calculating this, cooked meat products can only maintain a shelf life of three or four days even if they are refrigerated.

Many meat products have "nitrite" in the ingredient list, which is a meat preservative. If nitrite is not added, meat products will be colonized by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that produces botulinum toxin. If 1 gram of botulinum toxin is divided into 1 million parts, a person will die immediately if he eats just one of them. Although nitrite is a recognized potential carcinogen, it is the nemesis of the deadly botulinum toxin. Therefore, humans cannot live without nitrite, and this food additive is added to most meat products.

Antioxidants are also a type of food additive that consumers find highly objectionable. In life, melon seeds will have a peculiar smell if stored for a long time. This is because foods containing more oil are easily oxidized by air during storage, causing rancidity, deterioration and discoloration. Nowadays, we rarely eat edible oil with peculiar smell, mainly because of the safe and efficient antioxidant tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).